Last night was my first show at the Greek Theatre – an outdoor arena on the Berkeley campus. I saw R.E.M. and what a great show it was! As promised, the band played a mix of old and new songs – I love their new album and all of those songs were performed exceptionally well. A highlight of their set was the song Driver 8, one with words of personal significance, and I wasn’t expecting to hear it. Other notes: Sold out crowd; the seating was a little tight for the first part of the show (concrete bleachers with spray-painted numbers), but then two people left and that made it more comfortable. The stage had a high-tech video backdrop, which you can see in pictures here. Overall, the venue had great sound and sight lines.
There were two opening acts, the National and Modest Mouse. As a friend predicted to me last year, I really liked the National – enough to record their set tonight and probably buy an album. The lead singer had great stage presence, and one of the band members plays a mean fiddle. On the other hand, I was bored by Modest Mouse. They didn’t do anything to make me interested in what they were playing – no song introductions and the lead singer seemed to yell the words more than sing them (although he had a pretty voice when he did sing). The only thing I liked about this band was the two drummers, who at times looked like twins or perhaps a mirror image of each other (too bad they weren’t wearing the same shirt).
Going back again to tonight’s show, same bands, but I have a much better seat – a plastic chair instead of the hard concrete, and closer to the stage. I’ll probably take my camera, since the bag check is cursory at best.